American Women Playwrights (July 2022)

This essay first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Choice (volume 59 | issue 11).


In an October 2021 essay published in The New York Times, noted playwright Theresa Rebeck asserted that as the American theater reinvents itself to welcome artists of color following the COVID-19 pandemic and the We See You White American Theatre (We See You W.A.T.) movement, there is still gender bias afoot. “A racial reckoning is underway in theatre,” Rebeck proclaims but “where is the gender reckoning?” She celebrates recent victories for American women playwrights, citing pre-pandemic statistics from The Count 2.0, a project cosponsored by the Lillys and the Dramatists Guild, that 31 percent of plays produced professionally nationwide were authored by women, up from 28 percent in their previous survey. This seemed like good news until she saw the announcement from Center Theater Group of Los Angeles, one of America’s leading theaters, that the 2021-22 season would feature ten plays by “a dazzlingly diverse and talented” group of mostly BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) playwrights with only one play written by a woman. “Nine men, one woman,” Rebeck notes with dismay. “This time of racial reckoning is vital and essential. But what if the outcome of all of this is that there are more men, of all different races, telling their stories to audiences all over America, and the women are largely shut out again?”

About the Author:

Dr. Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco is professor of theatre and American studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut. She regularly directs plays by and teaches courses on American women playwrights.